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让 vs. 准

One. What is the difference between:

得 and (需)要?
让 and 准?
短 and 矮?

Two. What is the Chinese word for favourite music, favourite cake?


March 26, 2018



One. 得: that depends on the sentence, but generally it means 'Get/receive' something e.g. 「他 得 到 」 = he gets

(需)要: 「要」means 'Want'.
e.g. 「他 要 」= he wants but when 「需要」means 'Need' e.g. 「他 需要 」= he needs

让: - is like a soft way to allow someone to do something. e.g. 「老师 让 我们 上课时 食糖」= Teachers allow us eating candies during class

准: - Allow e.g. 「老师 不准 我们 上课时 食糖」Teachers do not allow us eating candies during class/ eating candies in class is not allowed

短: - short. e.g. 「短 头髮」= short hair

矮: - short, particularly refers to height. e.g. 「他 很 矮」= he is very short

Two. favourite = 最愛 最喜歡 的 e.g. favourite music = 最愛的音樂 / 最喜歡的音樂 favourite cake = 最愛的蛋糕 / 最喜歡的蛋糕

I hope these help:)


kiyo978228's reply is all correct and has some great examples, but I also just wanted to add a bit:

1a) 得 vs. (需)要

I'm not sure exactly what the context is that you've seen 得 in that prompted this question, but there's a relevant alternate definition and pronunciation for 得. The one that kiyo978228 is referring to, where it means "to get/receive", is pronounced "dé". In other contexts, 得 can mean "must", in which case it is pronounced "děi". For example, "他没钱了, 我得帮他" - "He's out of money, I must help him". In this case, it can have a similar meaning to "要" (in contexts where it means "must") or "需要". However, "得" must be followed by a verb phrase when it means "must", whereas "需要" can be followed by a noun. E.g. "他需要钱" is valid for "He needs money", but "他得钱" is incorrect.

1b) 让 and 准

Agreed that 让 is softer than 准. 准 has connotations of being allowed based on a formal rule or principle, whereas 让 can suggest more informal permission. When it means "to allow", 准 is also more commonly used in the negative as 不准, whereas 让 is used in both positive and negative.

Another difference between the two is that 准 can also mean "to be allowed", in addition to "to allow", whereas 让 can only mean "to allow" and not "to be allowed". So in "老师 不准 我们 说话" - "The teacher doesn't allow us to speak", 准 means "to allow" and takes a direct object 我们. However, "我们 不准 说话" - "We are not allowed to speak" is also valid, and in this sentence 准 means "to be allowed" and does not take a direct object. "老师 不让 我们 说话" also means "The teacher doesn't allow us to speak", but you can't say "我们 不让 说话" to mean "We are not allowed to speak".

1c) 短 vs. 矮

Not much to add here. 短 is short as in having a short length, whereas 矮 is short as in having a low height. 矮 is used for people's heights, but can also be used for other things that "stand" upright, like a building or furniture.

2) Favorite

Nothing to add here, "最爱的" and "最喜欢的" are the typical ways to express this.


得, 要 and 让, 准 have many meanings. Some of the meanings are similar so you can replace one word with the other, but other meanings are quite different.

(a) 得 and 要

得 can translate to "have to".
要 can translate to "need to".

So yes, they are quite similar in this sense, and often interchangable. When used in a sentence like "我得走了" or "我要走了", they are more or less the same.

I think 得 is a bit more colloquial, so it is used more in spoken Chinese.

Each of these words also have other meanings:
• 得: to get
• 要: to need (+ noun)
In these senses, they are not interchangable.

(b) 让 and 准

让 is "let" (the most common meaning).
准 is "allow" or "permit".

I think that translation explained it pretty well. 让 is more colloquial and 准 is more formal.

For example, you would say "let me in!" / "让我進去!" but you wouldn't use allow / 准 in this situation.

And you might see signs saying "No smoking (allowed)" / "不准吸烟" but you wouldn't use let / 让 in this situation. (in English you would usually omit the "allowed" but you get the idea)

(c) 短 and 矮

短 is short as opposed to long.
矮 is short as opposed to tall.


Thanks for the explanations, they really help. The tips should have more explanations like these.


For 1a, I once also was curious about the difference between 得,要 when they mean "need to" too. As I asked my friend, who learns Chinese as his major. He told me that: means something you have to do. And that is your duty, it is something you should do it. also means must. But it's like it must be done because you want to do it yourself.

For example,

  • 因为我是学生,所以我得去学校 。 Because I'm a student, so I have to go to school. (It's your duty because you're student)

  • 家里没有米,我得去超市买东西 。 There's no rice at home, so I have to go to supermarket to buy it. (You should buy it or you will have to rice for eating)

  • 我的手机坏了, 我要买一个 。 My cellphone is broken, I have to buy one.

  • 我要努力学习中文 。 I have to learn Chinese diligently. (Because you want to)

and from one of the Duolingo's lesson sentences. 我们现在要上火车。 We must get on the train now. (We want to because we don't want to be late.

Hope these can help :)

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